April and May are big birthday months for our family. Joanna's is first, then Grandma Rich, Jack, and me. TODAY is my father-in-law's, followed by my sister-in-law, and hopefully not TOO far away will be the actual birthday of our new little one. We've had a GREAT time celebrating together, as always.
For Joanna's birthday, she met Vanessa and I at the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. We had a fun time letting the kids play and play until they had seen all they could see. That museum is fantastic, and even with the Monday morning crowd, we all loved it! This was the first in our series of "cousin camp" (which one of you Ottleys coined this phrase?) days together that we hope to really get going once the kids are out of school. I'm already getting anxious for the time together!
Do these kids look like they're having fun, or what?
Grandma Rich turned 98 on the 20th and is doing amazingly well! We were so happy we could celebrate with her and a lot of other family members who were in town. We've lost count on how many great-grandkids Grandma has (they're still coming!), but I think she's going on 4-5 great-great-grandkids, which is pretty impressive! Anyone know the number for sure?
She's aging so gracefully, and although she keeps wondering why she's still hanging around, I'm certain she's here for a reason, and I LOVE still having her as part of my life. It wasn't until I lived ten minutes from her home and was suddenly a stay-at-home mom with Jack, that I really realized how much I love this woman. We had weekly visits where I got to hear all about her days as a young mother, while she watched my son grow little by little. I loved hearing her stories of how she would tie my Dad and little brother Gordon to lengths of rope and attach them to the front porch so they would be safe while they played in the front yard. I'm going to have to try that one.
We took lots of pictures at the birthday dinner, but none really turned out great. I did love the way Jane and Grandma are looking at each other in this one. Jane really loves her great-grandma and even requests to go and visit her.
Is it just our family, or is there a program at every gathering in other families too? Here, we got some of the grandkids to play the twinkle variations together, which they'd never done before, so it was quite a hoot to watch. Vanessa kept them together pretty well, and it definitely made me think I need to start our cousin group lessons.
Have I ever said how much I love my sisters? I do. They are incredible. And aren't they beautiful too? We have too few pictures as adults together (although when you consider how many we have as young girls in matching dresses, maybe this is just to even things out). I was happy that dad took this one of us, even if we (meaning myself) weren't looking or feeling like such hot stuff. Pregnancy can do that to you, I guess.
Jack had a great birthday. It was nice that it landed on a Saturday so we could have as much time to do whatever we wanted. I did, however, take ice cream cones into his school class the day before, which was pretty exciting for a bunch of six-year-olds to be eating ice cream at 9:30am. I'm such a good mom [to be read with sarcasm]. I feed other people's kids ice cream before lunch. Jack was ecstatic.
For Saturday, we had a nice, relaxed morning where Jack and Jane could play with his new birthday stuff, build forts, watch a movie just because, and NOT need to even clean their rooms. They were in heaven. He had a soccer game at noon, which Jack was very excited about. His team even scored a goal this game, yay! We're not even sure who bumped it in, but you can bet we rejoiced that they could have that small success! We'll post soccer pictures as we get more into the season (this was only game two).
Jack chose to go to Jumpin' Jacks for the afternoon where he and Jane jumped all over everything until they were all worn out, which of course, we love. Jack's a little crazy on this stuff, and as you can see, simply sliding down wasn't an option. He had to jump as high as he could, so he'd touch the slide only at the very bottom. He was loving it.
We had a nice, quiet evening at home, eating homemade hamburgers and watching the movie "Holes", the movie based on the book Jack and I just finished reading. If we hadn't read it first, I don't think we would have watched it, but Jack loved seeing all the characters that we'd read all about (the book is awesome, by the way), and was only disappointed that in the movie you can't see the black teeth and white tongue of the yellow-spotted lizards. He remembers WAY more details than I do.
He requested a Batman cake about six months ago, and didn't change his mind until last week. At that point I decided it was too late to switch to the Green Lantern. Batman it is! That will give me a year to think up something fun for the the Green Lantern (and find out more about who he even is!), although I'm sure he'll change to something even more unknown to me by then! I was happy he was so excited about the Batman cake, despite how simple it was.
Mimi and Papa spoiled Jack with a chainsaw, complete with safety goggles. Any kind of tool is a hit with this kid (just look at that mischievous look in his eyes!). He even slept with it for the next few nights until he realized there were just a few other things that are a little easier to cuddle with! I have a feeling this will be one of those toys that's always out.
Grandma and Grandpa Hillman created a "genius kit" for Jack which consisted of a big bucket filled with things for Jack's inventions: rubber bands, pipe cleaners, twisty ties, yarn, scissors, cardboard, stencils, fasteners, paper clips, and even a sign for his door that reads "genius at work". It's kept him busy for hours already, and he's come out with some really fun things. Talk about putting his imagination to work! I'm sure we'll have some good invention pictures coming up in the near future.
My birthday was just three days after Jack's and I can honestly say it was one of my favorites. Jeff took the day off, made me breakfast in bed, and was super-sneaky (I mean, SUPER sneaky) in planning a fun-filled day. We even enjoyed a nice, quiet lunch eating Thai food, which I've missed terribly. It's a whole different thing to pay $8/dish here vs. $1/dish there. Ouch! But, I have to admit... it was good! Jeff got BIG points for pulling this day off without a hitch. He treats me way better than I deserve! Our camera, at this point, was MIA, so no pictures of the fun day, but still LOTS of good memories.
Jeff and his dad spent two evenings this last week working on the plumbing in our basement bathroom. Dad's a pro, so this was the first thing Jeff hasn't had to learn how to do himself. Jeff loves working with his dad (and who wouldn't? He's completely enjoyable!), and even with the few set-backs they had, they were still all smiles. It's awesome to see Jeff get that satisfaction that only comes from succeeding at something challenging. Or, is that just happiness from getting to use a blow torch? Either way, I love watching these men happily at work.
Amidst all the fun, I'm still quite pregnant. I'm officially due in just under two weeks, and I'm feeling pretty good. This pregnancy has no doubt been harder than my other two, but I'm so close, it's hardly worth complaining. We're all very anxious to meet this little one and start a new chapter of our lives as a family of five. I'm also anxious to lay on my stomach once again. I love that feeling. We'll keep you updated!